February 9, 2012

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:13 am by suebe2

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Bantam Dell
AR 6.6

Flavia de Luce is an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison.  Never mind that she’s only 11 years-old.  She’s got a fully equipped chemistry laboratory and library — thanks to Uncle Tar de Luce who outfitted it with all of the best glass and brass work.  Here Flavia duplicates the works of earlier chemists and tries out a few tricks of her own — just what concentration of poison ivy must one introduce to a lipstick to reek havoc on a dreadful sister’s lips?

One evening, her family finds a dead snipe on the kitchen door step.  Unpleasant?  Yes, but not enough so to warrant her father’s pale, shaky response.  And what does it mean?  The stamp skewered on the bird’s beak?

That night she hears her father arguing with someone in his study.  When she is caught eavesdropping by their servant, he warns her to stay out of things and sends her to her room.

Early in the morning, something wakes Flavia up and she makes her way down to the garden.  There she finds a not-quite-dead body sprawled amid the cucumbers.  Who is he and what brought about his untimely end?  And what secrets are all of the adults hiding?

While this isn’t a children’s or juvenile novel, the 11-year-old protagonist will delight bright young readers.  Flavia is, first and foremost, a world class mind.  She’s precocious and lives by her own rules — a bit Artemis Fowl in that way although Flavia is more unconventional than a true anti-hero.

A quick read, this book will appeal to girls who love science and mysteries as well as kids in general who fancy themselves the heroes their families, and the world in general, so desperately need.

–SueBE

 

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